Asian students at the University of Pennsylvania are upset after Phi Gamma Delta fraternity member and his date on Saturday night called their beer pong team “VietPong.”
Photos of the couple at the frat’s FIJI date night, wearing military camouflage with war paint on their faces, were posted to Instagram and later acquired by The Daily Pennsylvanian.
The costumes were similar to the Viet Cong guerrillas that fought against the U.S. during the Vietnam War.
The frat brother and his date’s identity have not been revealed because they have not been “formally accused of any wrongdoing.”
However, the Asian Pacific Student Coalition and Vietnamese Student Association have denounced the actions of the FIJI member.
In a Sunday statement, college senior and president of the VSA, Nicole Phan, said that the “VietPong” team name was insensitive and ignorant towards the history and identity of the Vietnamese community.
“The political background and attire associated with the Viet Cong should not be treated as a joke and adorned so casually,” said Phan. “The ignorance of our history is representative of the overarching issue of stereotyping and misrepresenting the Asian community without consequences.”
The frat brother wrote a formal apology to ASPC, regretting his actions and saying that his behavior should not reflect on Phi Gamma Delta.
FIJI president and Wharton and engineering senior Connor Swords also said that the team name was an independent choice made by the frat member.
“The team name was not made with any malicious intent and arose due to the involved brother’s lack of understanding,” Swords said in a statement. “We apologize that our brother’s actions marginalized API students and the larger Penn community.”
Phan does not consider this an isolated incident, especially taking into account the current political climate in the U.S.
“In such a racially tense period, such an occurrence on this campus only reminds minority communities and people of color that they are marginalized,” said Phan. “This incident highlights the lack of progressive thinking on our campus and goes to show that our campus still has a far ways to go.”
This is not the first time the team name has been used during a college beer pong game.
A quick search for the hashtag #VietPong on Instagram brings up plenty of photos and videos.